It’s been a long offseason, and we’re down to 72 hours until the season begins.
Hearing that the Cubs started tearing down the Wrigley Field bleachers today felt like the end of something for me. From the first time I sat in the bleachers back in 1987, to the last time I did so back in 2005, they were always a place where I felt good. Granted, a fair amount of this was alcohol-induced, but not all of it was. It was the place to be, if you wanted to have the full-on Wrigley experience. And I certainly did that, for the better part of my adult life.
I went there in the 1980s with the college girl who later became my wife. I celebrated opening day there at least a couple of times, and saw both Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson receive their Wrigley sendoffs there. I went there with my brother, and friends of all varieties, and even went by myself on a few occasions. I took my two young daughters the last time I was there, even though it never was a very kid-friendly place. Simply put, it was my home away from home, and the place I wanted to be whenever I had the chance to go. And now it’s gone.
Whatever comes along to take its place, it can’t be what it once was to me. And that’s probably all for the best, since everything changes and evolves over time.
Here are a few pictures of or from the bleachers:
Thanks for the memories!
Back in the early days of this season, I was asked by WrigleyvilleNation to write something about a Cubs players for each decade from the 1910s to the present. Since I enjoy writing and telling stories, especially about baseball and the Cubs, I started off with a piece about a long-forgotten pitcher named Claude Hendrix. The rest of the pieces are as follows:
1920s: Gabby Hartnett
1930s: Kiki Cuyler
1940s: Emil Verban
1950s: Chuck Tanner
1960s: Lou Brock
1970s: Bruce Sutter
1980s: Gary Matthews
1990s: Gary Gaetti
2000s: Mark Prior
I don’t think I ever linked to any of these stories here before, so here’s a century worth of Cubs, from All-Stars and Hall of Famers to guys who had more esoteric careers.
They all played the game–and played it for my team–so there’s some thread that binds them all together. And none of them ever won a World Series, either, at least not with the Cubs. And that’s what really binds us fans together right now.
I recently had an opportunity to take in a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline, Lake Michigan, and Wrigley Field at the same time. I enjoyed them all, but the one shot that I wanted to have with me in it was the Wrigley Field vista. That speaks volumes as to who I am, really.
I started following the Cubs by watching their games on WGN, Channel 9 in Chicago. The first time I tuned in was late in the 1975 season, when I was seven years old. And now, almost forty years later, I realize that it has been a large part of my identity over the years and decades. There aren’t too many things in life that are more deeply-seated than my attachment to the Cubs.
And they’ve disappointed me in so many ways over the years. Losing is the most obvious way, which forces me to watch while baseball’s other teams taste success instead. And even when they win, it’s just a prelude to more losing in the end.
After so many years and so many disappointments, I am, quite frankly, embittered. I have no faith in the rebuilding process that has been going on since 2012. I don’t think it will pay off with the championship that I and other Cubs fans are craving, at least not in my lifetime. And if it happens after I’m gone, what’s the point?
I don’t have any terminal diseases that I know off, and it’s not like I’m expecting to die anytime soon. That’s not the motivation for writing this. It’s just that every season should be treated as though it will be the last because for many fans, that’s exactly what it is.
A Cubs fan just like me will probably die over the next week. I won’t know who it is, but they’ll be a victim of this process of a still unknown duration. The younger men than I am who run this team can afford to take the long view of the process. The rest of us–who just want to see it once before we pass from this earth–don’t have that luxury.
Today I was futzing around with an app called Photo Booth on the laptop, and found that smiling for pictures just looked dumb. They were forced smiles, after all. But when I glared at the camera, the images seemed to turn out better. Funny how that works.
Having recently seen The Birdcage in the aftermath of Robin Williams’ death, I recalled a scene where Nathan Lane’s character was dressed in a suit, but when he crossed his legs it revealed the bright pink socks that he was wearing. His response was perfect: “One does want a hint of color.”
So to take the edge off of my glaring visage, I added an effect called “Pop art.” The result, in my mind, is the Technicolor Badass shown above. And now that it’s online, it can live forever. The internet is an amazing thing, indeed.
It’s been a while since I’ve done this, and that makes me a little bit sad. So much has happened that I want to say a few words about: the loss of Robin Williams, the bullshit–and there’s no other word I’ll use to describe it–that’s been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, the little things that have been happening in my life this summer, and whatever other thoughts pop into my head from time to time.
But instead, there’s nothing new going on here lately.
I still write things on occasion, mostly about the Chicago Cubs. With so many places to focus energy and attention, for some reason I keep coming back to that subject. I don’t understand it, but there it is.
The world can lift your spirits and break your heart, sometimes both in the same day. And if a moment or an event isn’t fixed for posterity in some way, it’s just gone. My blog is a defense against that, in some small and meaningless way. I don’t put multiple posts within the same day here anymore, but I will continue on with posting a few words from time to time.
Robin Williams was Yang, and police in riot gear shooting at unarmed Americans was Yin. We have both in this world and always will. And this blog is my humble attempt at acknowledging both.
Actually, I’ve had a number of pieces appear there lately: a wistful piece about Jim Thome, a piece about how bad the team has been this year, a look back at baseball cards from 1975, and a tale of Bruce Sutter’s greatness. I’ll probably always have something to say about the Cubs, no matter how much they disappoint me.